Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
THE African Development Bank (AfDB) has injected $35 million towards implementation of the Zizabona power project.
This comes at a time when implementers of the project, which will see a 330kV interconnector line to join four nations — Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia, being constructed to enable wheeling of power north-south or vice versa via the Caprivi Link, hope to reach financial closure next year.
Zizabona is an abbreviation code derived from the first two letters of the four Sadc countries who are planning a $223 million power transmission project expected to produce and distribute 600 megawatts to feed into the region. Project implementers have been looking for investors amid reports that the AfDB, Development Bank of Southern Africa (DeBSA), European Investment Bank, French Development Agency and Stanbic Botswana have expressed interest in funding the mega project.
Addressing ministers from Zambia and Zimbabwe as well as potential investors who attended the recent Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme investors’ conference in Livingstone, Zambia, AfDB vice president Mr Amadou Hott said the continental development bank was committed to funding Zizabona, with some funds set aside for it.
In an interview later on the sidelines of the conference, the bank’s chief energy investment officer Mr Farai Kanonda said feasibility studies for the project have been completed.
“Studies have been completed and now we are looking at phasing the whole project. Plans are that we do ZIZA for now and link the two countries before moving to the others,” said Mr Kanonda.
“We are hoping to reach financial closure next year and at the moment we are reviewing internally with $35 million having been injected for the ZIZA.”
He said the project could take between 24 and 30 months to finish after financial closure.
While AfDB was playing its part, Mr Kanonda said other interested funders were also busy on their side.
An agreement for Zizabona was signed in 2008 and it compelled all the four countries’ respective power utilities — Zesa, Zambia Electricity Supply Company, Botswana Power Corporation and Namibia Power Company to finance parts of the project that fall within their national boundaries.
The project will include construction of a 120-kilometre 330kV line from Hwange Power Station to Victoria Falls where a switching station will be built on the Zimbabwe side. The line will extend to a substation in Livingstone, Zambia, from where a 300km 330kV line from Livingstone to Katima Mulilo in Namibia, through Pandamatenga in Botswana, will be built.
Scores of villagers in Chiefs Shana, Whange and Mvuthu areas are set to be relocated to pave way for the power line. The project is expected to have capacity to increase power trading among participating utilities, as well as provide an alternative route and help decongest the existing central transmission corridor that presently passes through Zimbabwe.